At least 211 British Columbians lost their lives to toxic drugs in January, according to a report from the BC Coroners Service.
Coroners Service officials said January marked the eighth time drug fatalities passed 200 in the past 16 months.
“Once again, our agency is reporting on preventable losses of life in heart-breaking numbers,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “The drug-poisoning crisis continues to cost lives and communities at an unprecedented rate. Toxic drugs pose a constant and ever-present danger to anyone who uses drugs. Anyone using any substance purchased on the unregulated illicit drug market is at risk of serious harm or death.”
According to the report, four people died in the Kootenay Boundary area, and no deaths were reported in the East Kootenay.
31 people died from toxic drugs across the Interior Health region in January.
Province-wide, the Coroners Service said an average of 6.8 people died of an overdose every day in January.
Seven out of 10 drug poisoning victims were between 30 and 59 years old and almost 80 per cent were male.
The Coroners Service continues to call for change to help lessen the number of residents who die of drug poisoning.
“Members of coroners’ inquests and death review panels have consistently recommended a continuum of care that includes evidence-based treatment options, access to safer supply, and other essential harm-reduction tools to end this crisis, including drug-checking, overdose prevention sites, and the need to eliminate stigma and criminalization,” said Lapointe. “It is estimated that there are more than 80,000 people in our province with opiod use disorder. Thousands of others regularly use stimulants such as cocaine. All of these members of our communities are currently at risk of sudden death”